Pandebonos, another staple of Colombian cuisine, and just like buñuelos, you will find them being sold and made everywhere in Colombia which is probably the reason why most of the recipe requests I get are for this doughy piece of heaven. There are many different versions of pandebono all over Latin America and they all have different names depending on where you are like pan de queso, chipá (Argentina) and the most famous of all, the Brazilian pão de queijo. Now, why are they called pandebonos in Colombia? Legend has it that these were first made by an Italian man living in el Valle del Cauca who made these delicious treats and used to sell them out on the street while yelling “¡pan de buono!” (good bread!). Now, I’m not sure if there is any truth behind that story but it does have its romantic touch, so I’m sticking to it.
And just like there are different names for cheese bread in Latin America, there are also many different ways and recipes to make them, some will have more ingredients than others, some will use different ingredients, less ingredients, what have you, but what they all have in common is the use of cassava flour and cheese.
The ingredients to make Colombian pandebonos are very similar to the ones used to make Colombian buñuelos because you need cassava flour, as well as queso costeño. And, just like I said in the buñuelos recipe, since this type of cheese is only found in Colombia, we’re substituting it with queso fresco and feta cheese. You will find that the combination of these two cheeses is perfect for making these.
You will see that these pandebonos will transport you back to Colombia as soon as you take them out of the oven and serve them on the table. And if you have never had a pandebono, you will see how wonderful they are.
PANDEBONOS (COLOMBIAN CHEESE BREAD)
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2 cups (240 g) cassava flour or cassava starch (also known as tapioca, mandioca or yucca flour)
2 tbsp pre-cooked corn meal (to make arepas) or all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups (200 g) queso fresco, grated
½ cup (50 g) feta cheese, grated
3 tbsp butter (softened)
1 large egg
Milk as needed
1. Pre-heat oven at 425ºF (220ºC).
2. In a food processor add cassava flour, pre-cooked cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to mix all ingredients well.
3. Now add the queso fresco, feta cheese, butter, egg and mix a few seconds to incorporate them with the dry mix. Now add the milk slowly, little by little until you get a soft dough.
4. Form small balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You can also roll out the ball to make a string about ½ inch (1 cm) thick and pinch the ends together to end up with a bagel looking pandebono.
5. Bake pandebonos for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
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